Thursday, March 8, 2012

Negotiation Nonverbal Communication Secret # 1253:
Peyton Manning's Bitter Smile

At a press conference yesterday with Colts owner, Jim Irsay, Peyton Manning displayed a classic "bitter smile" (Ekman) many times. It is an outward manifestation of the inner feelings of regret and bitterness. It's called a bitter smile because people think they're making a modest, albeit forced smile when the contour of their mouth really forms a concave-down curve (upside-down smile). It's a great example of just how unaware we all are of our nonverbal displays - particularly in real-time and when dealing with negative emotions. We all know the context of Manning's situation, and most find it very believable that he regrets leaving Indianapolis, so the emotion of regret-bitterness doesn't surprise us here. Yet, if we're truly observant, it is utterly amazing how often we will see this body language-facial display in our everyday lives'. The vast majority of the time though, people are completely oblivious to it or it's dismissed outright after very little reflection. The underlying emotional tone is identical to Manning's however - one of bitter-regret. How many times did you completely miss this expression today?